We all know and have experienced them at some point. DOMS have a sneaky way of hitting anywhere between 24 and 48 hours post vigorous workout. The muscles are hurting, the staircase somehow tripled overnight and it hurts to sit, stand or walk. Not fun. Understanding what really goes on in the body can help you to keep on pushing forward, and do as much as possible to make friends with the DOMS. Ok, maybe not friends, but at least not an enemy.
DOMS are good. In fact, they are great. We feel pain when there is a change in the body and in this case, the change is good! Pre-exercise, your muscles are most likely in a relaxed state. Exercise is a change that muscles see as stress situation. From a medical perspective, damage (on a microscopical level) of the muscle tissue happens as your muscles are being stretched, which causes inflammation, which causes pain.
To deal with the damage, the body responds by producing a type of white blood cell, a neutrophil, which generates oxygen radicals. These are crucial in cleaning up debris of damaged muscle tissue. As helpful as they sound though, they can also cause more damage and an acute inflammation. And you already know the name of it... DOMS.
There's plenty of advice out there on what you can do to deal with the DOMS. Instead of trying to do it all, we recommend you pick your battles and use 3 basic and manageable steps that can help you to ease the pain or in some cases prevent it altogether:
1. Get your body moving
Probably the worst you can do is to stay seated the whole day post heavy workout. Your muscles will tighten more and possibly make the DOMS worse. So get up and start stretching or go for a brisk walk. Low-impact aerobic exercise is great to get the blood flowing and help the muscles to get on the recovery track. There are many great apps to keep you moving. Our favourite is SEVEN and it does what it says - gives 7 minute long (or short!) sets of different types, intensities and muscle group targets exercises. Whatever it is, do not stay glued to the couch!
2. Submit to your foam roller
Yes, this will hurt. A lot. But it will help to release tension in the muscle while increasing blood flow. And we like blood flow! We've tested this affordable and effective roller and hits the spot. Try it out!
Note: If the pain feels unbearable or not right, we recommend you see your healthcare practitioner as there might be something more serious going on. Rolling hurts, but it should never be unpleasant to the point when you cannot take the pain.
3. Fuel up your muscles
With the right foods and drinks, you can actually help the muscles to recover. Drinking plenty of clean water is a no-brainer. Add coconut water and you're upgrading your liquid intake with natural electrolytes (salts and minerals), which get depleted with sweat.
Another great DOMS fighting remedy is turmeric. Remember the previously mentioned oxygen free radicals having a party in your system? Curcumin, as a very potent ANTI-oxidant, can help to clean up the free radicals and prevent them from multiplying. Curcumin also inhibits substances that act as inflammatory mediators (their fancy names are cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase and inducible nitric oxide). By blocking these bad guys, there is less pain, less inflammation, less DOMS. Try our organic cold-pressed juices with turmeric or go straight for the tough one - Just Turmeric shot!
The long weekend is coming, so get moving and keep it pain-free!